Archive

Posts Tagged ‘Franks’

Franks returns, Toone waived

September 6th, 2012 Comments off
Alan Maglaque-US PRESSWIRE

Dominique Franks

The Falcons announced today that they have re-signed cornerback Dominique Franks and waived-injured wideout Tim Toone. Franks was among the team’s more surprising cuts during last weekend’s cutdown to 53 players. Franks and Toone had split reps during the preseason on punt returns. With the waived-injured designation, Toone will be placed on the Falcons’ injured reserve upon clearing waivers.

Since being cut by the Falcons, Franks has gotten looks from the Pittsburgh Steelers, Kansas City Chiefs (per Adam Caplan) and Miami Dolphins (per Aaron Wilson). Last season, Franks started four games as an injury replacement for Brent Grimes. He finished the season with 15 tackles and a pair of interceptions.

During this past preseason, Franks returned a total of 6 punts for 70 yards (11.7 avg), including a 45-yard return in the preseason opener against the Ravens. Toone had 6 punt returns for 48 yards (8.0 avg).

Categories: News Tags: , ,

Falcons cut 19 to get down to the roster

August 31st, 2012 Comments off
Alan Maglaque-US PRESSWIRE

Dominique Franks, among surprise cuts

The Falcons announced the cuts made today to get their roster down to 53 players. The team released 22 players including running back Dimitri Nance; fullback Mike Cox; wide receivers D.J. Davis, Marcus Jackson, and James Rodgers; offensive linemen Bryce Harris and Tyler Horn; defensive tackles Conrad Obi and Micanor Regis; linebackers Spencer Adkins, Rico Council, Jerrell Harris, and Pat Schiller; cornerbacks Dominique Franks, Marty Markett, and Peyton Thompson; safety Suaesi Tuimaunei; and long snapper Joe Zelenka.  The team also reached injury settlements with tight end LaMark Brown and guard Andrew Jackson, while waiving-injured wide receiver Kerry Meier, and placing safety Shann Schillinger on injured reserve.

Among the cuts, notable ones include Cox, Adkins, Franks, and Zelenka played with the team last season. Cox lost the battle to fullback Lousaka Polite, who was signed three weeks ago for the battle for the starting fullback position. Cox joined the team last October after the injury to Ovie Mughelli. Adkins was a sixth round pick of the Falcons in 2009 that had his best season a year ago, starting 1 game and recording 5 tackles as a reserve linebacker. Franks started 4 games last year at cornerback as a replacement for Brent Grimes, and was considered a front-runner for taking over the punt return duties this year. Franks was originally a fifth round pick in 2010. Zelenka has been the Falcons since 2009, but lost the long snapping job to undrafted rookie Josh Harris.

With these moves, several players made the Falcons roster for the first time. Five of the team’s six draft picks made the final roster, with the sixth player: Bradie Ewing already on injured reserve. Harris joined quarterback Dominique Davis and guard Phillip Manley as one of three undrafted free agents that made the team. Quarterback Luke McCown, signed earlier this week is also a newcomer to the roster. Wide receivers Kevin Cone and Tim Toone also made the team as reserves. Cone spent last year on the Falcons practice squad, but Toone was added earlier this month in camp. Alongside Cone, tight end Tommy Gallarda was able to elevate himself from a practice squad spot last year to a full roster position this year. Free agent pickups in cornerback Asante Samuel, safety Chris Hope, and cornerback Robert McClain are also first time Falcons.

Which Falcons could become trade bait?

August 30th, 2012 Comments off

This is the port in the summer where people are talking about trading players, and I just wanted to quickly go over some Falcon players that probably have the most trade value. Obviously, a player like Roddy White would have huge trade value, but the Falcons won’t trade him. I’m looking more at guys that appear to be somewhat expendable and have an outside shot that it could happen if a phone call was made.

Most trades at this point in time involve late round picks and roster bubble players. The Vontae Davis trade withstanding, it’s rare a team will part ways with their top corner who is only in his third year in the league. The normal trade at this point in time is what the Colts did earlier when they acquired Josh Gordy from St. Louis. Most of these trades are for conditional picks, meaning that if said player makes the new team’s roster or plays a certain amount of games in the upcoming season, compensation will be exchanged. If not, then nothing is lost.

I’ll start with Michael Turner, not because I think he’ll be traded or should be traded, but just because in the dark reaches of an alley, there are a few Falcon fans conspiring about it. Turner does not have a ton of trade value. I think it would be possible for the Falcons to get a conditional fifth or sixth round pick at this point in time for Turner, potentially based off how many rushing yards he has this season. But that’s probably about it. That really is not worth it.

Jason Snelling is another player that could be shopped most years, but his injury as well as the question marks that the Falcons have at fullback probably placed in the non-expendable category. Teams don’t normally trade for injured players, and when they do it rarely turns in their favor. (see Otah, Jeff)

Also on offense, players that could be parted ways with include some of their backup offensive linemen. Namely Andrew Jackson, Joe Hawley, and Mike Johnson. Hawley and Johnson probably have better value on the market namely because Hawley has gotten extensive reps last year and Johnson was a higher round pick that many people liked coming out of Alabama. A team like Dallas, who has been hurting at a position like center could probably be interested in a player like Hawley for a possible sixth or seventh rounder. Johnson probably could fetch the same price, if a team was looking for a guy that can add depth at guard or tackle.

On the defensive line, the two players that are probably the easiest to trade would be Kroy Biermann and Vance Walker. I would be shocked if the Falcons would trade Biermann because he seems to be nestled atop their depth chart as the team’s nickel pass rusher, replacing Ray Edwards. But given the fact that they still would have Edwards and Lawrence Sidbury to fill that role, and could still develop Jonathan Massaquoi and/or Cliff Matthews as depth, it would not be crazy if the Falcons did shop Biermann for a late round pick. Walker’s experience means that a team hurting for a run-stopping one-gap tackle could be enticed to give up a seventh rounder.

If the Falcons were confident in the return abilities of Harry Douglas on punts, it could potentially mean that Dominique Franks could be shopped. If a team was really hurting for depth at cornerback, they might also look at Chris Owens, assuming he’s fully recovered from his hamstring injury. The Falcons could presumably opt to deal one of them because of the other’s presence.

I don’t think any of these players should be traded or will be traded, but it always interesting to see what possibilities are out there. A lot of those players I mentioned, getting just a conditional sixth or seventh round pick doesn’t seem like a fair trade for the Falcons. Ultimately the depth many of those guys provide and the roles they fill are worth me in return than a draft pick that ultimately will just be a career backup and special teamer in all likelihood. Biermann is a prime example of this. He’s a pulled muscle away from starting a bunch of games this year and helping keep the pass rush from evaporating. No offense, but that right there is worth more than drafting another Charles Mitchell or Wilrey Fontenot.

Falcon Players to Watch Tonight vs. Bengals

August 16th, 2012 Comments off

Looking at several Falcon players that are in prime position in tonight’s preseason matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals to stand out and make a big push to make this Falcons team come September.

  • WR Kevin Cone – While the offensive production of Cone and the other receivers is what is easiest to pay attention to, the key for Cone making the Falcons roster will be his performance on special teams. With D.J. Davis already putting some nice highlights there last week, it’s time for Cone to step up and start to make some key contributions. Otherwise regardless of his offensive potential, he won’t be a Falcon in 2012.
  • WR Kerry Meier – Meier was highlighted last week, and will be so again. Against the Ravens, he played with the first unit taking over the third wide receiver spot for Harry Douglas and did not notch any production. With Douglas returning to the lineup, he’ll likely be pushed to the second units where he can start to make an impact on offense. While Meier’s roster spot is pretty much locked up, he needs to start producing on offense to verify that the Falcons depth is not weak at this position.
  • DE Cliff Matthews – Matthews had a nice performance last week against the Ravens, and will need another solid to strong one tonight. He’s in a battle with Jonathan Massaquoi for the fifth defensive end spot. If push comes to shove, it’s likely that Matthews will be the odd man out if the team is forced to choose only one of the pair. But both players have performed well enough to think the Falcons might try and keep six ends. But that will only become a possibility if Matthews continues to play well.
  • DT Micanor Regis – While Travian Robertson’s play was highlighted from last week’s preseason opener, Regis also made some things happen against the Ravens. Regis has the sort of bulk and presence in the middle to play the nose in a three-man front. While it seems doubtful that he’ll win an outright roster spot, continuing to play well this summer likely can lock up a practice squad spot for him. But his roster chances are enhanced if Vance Walker sits out once more tonight.
  • LB Mike PetersonHe will get the start tonight for an injured Akeem Dent. Few have ever questioned Peterson’s ability to defend the run, and if Dent cannot show he’s significantly better in pass coverage, then it’s possible the team could lean towards the veteran Peterson as the starting middle linebacker. But he’ll need to stand out against the Bengals for that possibility to occur.
  • CB Dominique Franks – It won’t really be Franks coverage abilities that will be worth monitoring, but his return skills. With the team electing not to use Douglas on returns, Franks has a perfect opportunity to solidify his hold on the position. Another productive night could be the nail in the coffin for that competition.
  • S Shann Schillinger – Charles Mitchell made a bit of a name for himself last week on defense, and it’s time for Schillinger to step up his game a little. While Schillinger has proven himself to be one of the team’s best special teams players, he needs to showcase that he does offer some upside on regular defense to really solidify his roster prospects.

Camp Battles 2012: Special Teams

July 21st, 2012 Comments off

The Falcons will have arguably the most amount of competition for roles on special teams in seemingly a long while this summer. The team is two-deep at all three specialist spots, and both return spots are completely open to competition.

It is likely that the incumbents at all three specialist spots will retain their jobs with Matt Bryant at kicker, Matt Bosher at punter, and Joe Zelenka at long snapper. All three players have given the team little issue to worry about. Bryant is the savvy veteran that has been highly productive and consistent in Atlanta. He’s made 28 of 30 kicks at home, with his two misses being a blocked 55-yarder against Buffalo in 2009 and a missed 41-yarder against the Saints last year. But Bryant isn’t getting any younger, and one of the issues that often comes with age as a kicker is leg strength. So far, Bryant hasn’t shown any significant drop-off from long range, but it’s not a coincidence that the player they brought in to push him is known for his leg strength. Undrafted rookie Erik Folk will push Bryant, and while he’s a longshot to win the job he’ll be given an opportunity to impress the staff if he can showcase a powerful and accurate leg in camp.

At punter, Matt Bosher got off to a very slow start last year. In fact, there was little debate to who was the league’s worst punter over the first 6-8 weeks of the season because it was indeed Bosher. But in the second half of the season, he really began to come on, and his ability to drive kickoffs into the endzone with consistency as well as get good placement on his punts saw a huge boost to the production of the Falcons special teams unit. He’ll be pushed by undrafted rookie Dawson Zimmerman. As is the case with the kicker spot, Zimmerman will have to be extremely good to unseat Bosher, who cannot afford another slow start to this season.

Zelenka might have the most tenuous hold on a roster spot among the three specialists. The team made an extra effort to bring a bunch of snappers this off-season, which could be a referendum on their desire to get younger at the position. In January, they added Corey Adams and Scott Albritton. Neither made it to camp, but they also signed undrafted rookie Josh Harris. It seemed that the team had plans to move on from Zelenka this off-season. He was one of the team’s final free agent re-signings, a move made in late March seemingly at a point when they realized they could afford to bring him back. That gives Harris a better than average chance to actually unseat Zelenka. The fact that Harris was actually a pretty solid snapper at Auburn. Harris probably needs another year or two to add polish, but if he can hit the ground running this summer, it would not be a surprise if he’s the team’s opening day snapper.

But most of the attention paid to special teams this year will be at the returner spots. The team will have open competitions for both kickoff and punt return duties this summer. While the team feels relatively secure at punt returner, as Harry Douglas and Dominique Franks will be pitted against each other. Douglas handled punt returns in the latter half of his rookie season in 2008, and Franks has been productive in limited action in each of the past two summers there. Between the two of them, the team should get a fairly competent replacement for the departed Eric Weems. Douglas appears ahead in the competition, but the positive for both is that losing that competition won’t cost either a roster spot.

The kickoff return duties are a lot less settled. The team will likely give several players looks this summer at the spot, but James Rodgers, Antone Smith, Jacquizz Rodgers appear to be the front-runners. James Rodgers was productive kickoff returner during his days at Oregon State, but will have to show that some of the burst he lost due to a knee injury in 2010 has returned. Smith is considered a dark horse candidate and because of his already established value on special teams coverage might be in prime position to win the job. Given the increased role on offense, the team would probably prefer not to use Quizz as a returner.

Depending on how the competition goes during the early days and weeks of camp, the team could easily throw others into the competition, including Brent Grimes, Franks, Douglas, Robbie Frey, and Marcus Jackson into the mix. It’s also possible that depending on how the competition goes the team could look elsewhere for an established returner on the waiver wire come August.

While the new rules around kickoffs lessen the impact that having a good kickoff returner can have on the game, it still remains important to have someone effective in that role. With Weems, the Falcons had a player that they were confident could field kicks 5 or so yards deep in the endzone and advance the ball past the 20-yard line on a fairly consistent basis. Not having that player won’t have a hugely negative impact on field position, but it does have still have a negative one. It’s mostly about trust. And if the coaching staff cannot trust the player to get 25 or more yards and the team is forced to kneel for touchbacks, then you’re not really helping the team.

Camp Battles 2012: Secondary

July 19th, 2012 Comments off
Bob Donnan-US PRESSWIRE

Dunta Robinson

One of the most interesting battles that will come in training camp this summer will occur in the secondary, as the Falcons look to shuffle their depth at cornerback.

With the addition of Asante Samuel joining Dunta Robinson and Brent Grimes, the Falcons are now three-deep at the cornerback position, and intend to take full advantage of that this season. The nickel package is expected to often be utilized as the Falcons base package with the intent of getting the best 11 defenders on the field at the same time.

But what needs to occur first in camp, is which of the three players will emerge as the two everydown players. Two of the players will play virtually every snap on defense, with the third nickel corner subbing in on passing situations. That third corner will play the majority of snaps on defense overall, but it won’t be every snap. Last year when Grimes was healthy, he and Robinson averaged about 63 snaps per game as starters, while the nickel corner was on the field (a combo of Kelvin Hayden, Dominique Franks, and Chris Owens) for about 36 snaps per game. The latter number is likely to increase, potentially to as high as 45-50 snaps per game.

Robinson and Grimes are the incumbents, and as such got most of the first team reps during the off-season. That means that Samuel will be coming off the bench as the nickel corner. If that remains the case into the season, then in those nickel situations Samuel will play on the outside across from Grimes with Robinson moving inside to the slot corner spot. This is arguably the best usage of the three players since among the three Samuel is the weakest in run support and thus limiting his first and second down reps could streamline his usage. But at the same time, Samuel is also the best playmaker of the group, and thus it would make sense to maximize that ability by putting him on the field as much as possible. Robinson on the other hand is the least likely to make plays in coverage, and while his strength has historically been run support, that was an area where he struggled throughout the 2011 season. He’ll need to show the coaching staff this summer that 2011 was an aberration, and his former toughness against the run has returned.

Franks, Owens, and Darrin Walls will be competing for the opportunity to be the first player off the bench in the event of an injury. Franks is the most likely of the group to win the job. He had his share of moments last year as an injury replacement for Grimes down the stretch. While Franks is not well-suited to playing in the slot, he does have a solid skillset that can make him a potentially effective starter on the outside. And given the looming contract issues that both Robinson and Grimes face in the future, the team may want to groom Franks as a potential replacement come 2013.

The addition of Samuel to the roster means that the Falcons could be parting ways with either Owens or Walls. Walls shined last summer but in the face of minimal competition due to the fact that he was competing with other undrafted free agents. He won’t have such a luxury this year, as he’ll likely be going directly up against Owens for the fifth and likely final cornerback slot. Owens has struggled throughout the years when lined up in the slot, but when he’s been an outside corner as a rookie and late last year, he has been a solid reserve. That experience and versatility coupled with Owens being one of the team’s better producers on special teams should give him an edge to win the job. But it’s no slam dunk. Owens is entering the final year of his contract, and while Walls is probably never going to be a better player than Owens in the long run, the fact that Walls is two years younger and cheaper could give him a slight edge in the competition. The key for Walls is showing that he can also be a very good special teams player. The positive for Walls is that he remains eligible for the practice squad, so it’s possible they could keep both.

There will be added competition at cornerback this summer. The team picked up Robert McClain in the off-season as well as adding undrafted free agents Marty Markett and Peyton Thompson. McClain was a solid special teams player as a rookie in 2010 with the Panthers. And Markett is a track guy from South Carolina that could potentially be an excellent gunner. Thompson has solid cover skills and the sort of toughness that could also make him a capable special teams player. Because of their potential to impact on special teams, all three players have a legit chance of making the roster.

At safety, the starters are settled with Thomas DeCoud at free safety and William Moore at strong safety. The team made a good decision to upgrade their depth by signing veteran Chris Hope. Hope will be the primary backup at strong safety, but he also posseses the experience to fit nicely as the team’s top backup at free safety as well. All three players have firm holds on their roster spots.

The key competition at safety will come for who wins the fourth safety spot. Shann Schillinger will compete with rookie draft pick Charles Mitchell, along with undrafted rookies Chad Faulcon and former practice squad player Suaesi Tuimaunei. Schillinger is one of the team’s top special teams players, which gives him an edge in the competition. But the team likes Mitchell and his skillset should also translate well to producing on special teams. Mitchell is not a great cover guy, but is an ace run defender despite being undersized. Schillinger has not shown a lot on defense the past two summers but he’s a free safety while Mitchell is a pure strong safety. And since Hope is primarily a strong safety, that also gives Schillinger the potential nod. The Falcons may opt to keep five safeties particularly if Schillinger manages to win the job, but Mitchell may also be destined for the practice squad at least early in the year. As for Faulcon and Tuimaunei, they are likely competing for practice squad spots, but will be hard-pressed to do so especially if the Falcons manage to keep five safeties. Their best chances will be impacting on special teams.

Deadline approaches for long-term deal for Grimes

July 9th, 2012 Comments off
Icon SMI

Brent Grimes

On July 16, the deadline for teams to sign their franchise players to long-term deals comes and goes. Which means that a week remains for the Falcons to lock up Brent Grimes to a long-term deal. If not, then Grimes will play out his one-year franchise tender in the hopes that a long-term deal will come after the 2012 season. A week ago, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports indicated the odds that Grimes receives a long-term deal from the Falcons as “fair.” La Canfora indicated that due to the money already invested in fellow corners Dunta Robinson and Asante Samuel, the Falcons may opt to take a wait and see approach to see how the 2012 season plays out between the three before handing out big dollars to Grimes.

Grimes already signed his tender in April, so there won’t be the threat of any holdout if the July 16 deadline comes and passes without a new deal. But the price tag for the Falcons will likely only increase if a deal isn’t struck sooner rather than later. Grimes will then become a free agent following the 2012 season and if the Falcons choose to tag him again, his tender will increase by 20% from the current $10.262 million to around $12.3 million in 2013. Next year, the Falcons most prominent free agents include Tony Gonzalez, William Moore, Vince Manuwai, and Todd McClure, thus making Grimes again the likeliest candidate for a tag.

Little word has been publicly noted about what type of deal Grimes is looking for. It’s likely a deal that approaches or exceeds $50 million in total value. Already this off-season, three free agents have received deals that exceeded that mark: Lardarius Webb (six years, $52.7 million), Cortland Finnegan (five years, $50 million), and Brandon Carr (five years, $50.1 million). It’s likely that Finnegan’s and Carr’s deals will be used to scaffold any potential deal for Grimes since they include the most guaranteed money ($24 and $25.5 million, respectively) and payouts over the first three years (both receive $33 million).

The Falcons gave out $22.5 million in guaranteed money to Robinson back in 2010 as part of a six-year, $57 million deal. They restructured his deal this past off-season, which makes his entire 2012 base salary of $5 million guaranteed, and $3 million of his $8 million base salary next year guaranteed if he’s on the roster on the fifth day of the league year starting in early March. Essentially it puts the Falcons in a position where they could part ways with Robinson or Grimes after this season depending on who proves to be the more valuable commodity in 2012. Robinson is a year older, but also serves the more valuable role as slot corner. For Samuel, his new three-year, $18.5 million deal only includes about $4.375 million in guaranteed money, but he has escalators in the deal tied to performance. Samuel and Grimes have similar games, both being undersized but highly instinctual ball-hawks. So if the Falcons opt to let Grimes play out his one-year deal and walk next year, they have a replacement already in Samuel. If they opt to part ways with Robinson, then it would require the team to get a new slot corner (although Dominique Franks is a possibility). But either way, the odds don’t appear to be greatly favoring the long-term viability of the triple threat of Grimes, Robinson, and Samuel at cornerback here in Atlanta.

Next year, the competition for new contracts for corners could heat up. Along with Grimes, potentially Tracy Porter (Broncos), Aqib Talib (Buccaneers), Antoine Cason and Quentin Jammer (Chargers), Mike Jenkins (Cowboys), Sean Smith (Dolphins), Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (Eagles), Chris Houston (Lions), Jabari Greer (Saints), and Jason McCourty (Titans) will hit the open market. Jets corner Darrelle Revis is also looking for a new deal that doesn’t seem likely to come before the 2012 season starts, but could be done afterwards which could raise the price tag of Grimes.

For now, with what is estimated to be under $3 million in 2012 cap space, the Falcons don’t need to get Grimes signed to a long-term deal and lower his 2012 cap hit. But it certainly would help and allow the team to carry over whatever savings they reap this year into next year’s salary cap. So it would certainly benefit to create as much salary cap space as possible this year to benefit them next year.

Categories: Features Tags: , , , ,

2015 Falcons: Secondary

June 20th, 2012 Comments off
F. Medina-US PRESSWIRE

William Moore

The Falcons secondary has undergone notable changes in the years leading up to 2015.

One of the few names still around is Brent Grimes, who received a long-term extension following another strong 2012 season. In 2015, Grimes at age 32 is not as spry as he once was but has been a consistent force and leader in the Falcons secondary over the years. The Falcons bid farewell to both Dunta Robinson and Asante Samuel but the Falcons have replaced them with players that they are optimistic can have similar value.

Starting opposite Grimes is former New York Jet Kyle Wilson. Instead of re-signing a 34-year old Samuel in 2015, the team opted for the 28-year old Wilson. In the years since 2011, Wilson developed into one of the league’s best slot corners with the Jets, and hoping to get sustained production from that spot the Falcons snatched him up in free agency.

Adding depth behind Grimes and Wilson are Dominique Franks and Jordan Poyer. The same off-season when the team parted ways with Robinson, they gave Franks an extension to serve as the No. 3 corner. In nickel situations, Wilson kicks inside and Franks enters on the outside. But the team is optimistic that their 2013 draftee out of Oregon State, Poyer, will push Franks for that role. The team fell in love with Poyer, a former third round pick, due to his intensity, toughness, playmaking ability, and return skills. Poyer has spent most of his time during his first two years with the Falcons returning punts. But now that he is entering his third season with the team, they are hopeful he can make major strides defensively to push Franks and give the Falcons four quality corners. Also on the roster is Darrin Walls, who has carved out a nice niche as one of the team’s top special teams cover men.

At safety, the unit is still anchored by William Moore on the strongside. Moore got an extension following the 2012 season. And while he is not considered an elite safety, he is valued as one of the top enforcers in the league. His hard-hitting ways have earned him quite the reputation on the back-end of the field.

The team picked up free safety Nickoe Whitley out of Mississippi State in the second round of the 2014 draft. Whitley sat behind Thomas DeCoud for his rookie season, but the team cut DeCoud due to their belief that Whitley is poised for a breakout season in his second year. Whitley’s aggressiveness mirrors that of Moore, but his ball skills and potential as a centerfielder gives him more upside at free safety.

The team still has managed to retain Charles Mitchell as a reserve. Moore’s hard-hitting has cost him a few games over the years due to injuries, and while Mitchell has never developed into that much of a cover guy, he has filled in ably in run support for the short periods that Moore has missed.

Categories: Features Tags: , , , ,

Free Agent Focus: Cornerback

February 14th, 2012 Comments off

Icon SMI

Brent Grimes

This position is one of their biggest question marks entering the off-season. The Falcons will be in a position where the decisions they make here could really make or break their defensive success for years to come.

That decision is centered on whether they bring back Brent Grimes or opt to let him walk via free agency. Grimes is one of the few impact defenders on that side of the ball and based off that fact alone it should be a no-brainer to keep him. But the question isn’t that simple, as the factor of money plays a huge part in Grimes’ future in Atlanta.

Two years ago, the Falcons made Dunta Robinson one of the league’s highest paid corners by giving him a deal that averages $9.5 million a year and included $22.5 million in guaranteed money. That contract paid Robinson over $30 million in the first three years of his contract, paying him more money than what the Falcons gave to their top wideout Roddy White the previous summer.

Robinson was essentially paid to be a premier corner, the caliber of player that could take on the league’s best receivers, and not only contain them but potentially shut them down. But what has occurred in the time since is that Grimes has developed into that player. That became very obvious when he transformed into “Optimus Grimes” and contained the league’s premier receiver in Week 7′s win over Detroit.

So now the Falcons have a potential dilemma on their hands. If any player on this roster deserves to make Robinson’s salary, it is Grimes. But the Falcons don’t seem inclined to part ways with Robinson, thanks in large part to the minimal savings it would net towards this year’s salary cap. So the Falcons are essentially having to ask themselves the question: Can they afford to pay two guys that type of money?

And whether that answer is yes or no, will reflect whether or not Grimes is a Falcon in 2012.

And if the answer is no, then the Falcons defense could be in trouble. While Dominique Franks had his moments late in the season as an injury replacement for Grimes, he is still a very far cry from providing the caliber of skills that Grimes has over the past two years. And thus the Falcons are going to need to find more help at this position if they lose Grimes.

And if the Falcons are unwilling to pay a high premium for Grimes, it’s unlikely that they are going to get into bidding wars for the other top free agent corners on the market that include Cortland Finnegan, Carlos Rogers, Brandon Carr, Tracy Porter, and Terrell Thomas.

Instead, the Falcons will likely have to look at some bargain players. The chances that Kelvin Hayden returns will probably increase if Grimes departs. Players such as Kelly Jennings, Richard Marshall, Rashean Mathis, Jason Allen, and Will Allen are all available free agents that have past experience with members of this coaching staff. With the exception of Marshall, who is only 27, all of those guys are older veterans that can at least provide the team with a decent insurance policy in case Franks or Chris Owens aren’t ready to be the starter. But all would be short-term stopgaps at best, essentially no different than the team’s decision to sign Brian Williams a few years back.

Detroit’s Eric Wright, New York’s Aaron Ross, and Chicago’s Zack Bowman might also be worthwhile targets that will likely be allowed to test their markets by their respective teams.

Either way, it appears clear that the best option available remains Grimes. And while he could be one of the more expensive options, he’s a known commodity. But new DC Mike Nolan has generally shown a preference for bigger, more physical corners than Grimes, and thus might influence their decision to pass on keeping him under the expectation that he won’t be as good going forward in Nolan’s scheme as he has been in recent years under Brian VanGorder.

If the Falcons were to retain Grimes, then there would be little issue at this position. They could continue with Grimes and Robinson as the starters, and continue to develop Franks as the nickel corner with the hope that in the future he could develop into a capable starter. Re-signing Grimes makes things a lot easier on the team.

If not, then they will likely be looking for a stopgap for a year or so in the hopes that Franks takes a huge leap forward, Robinson starts to play up to his price tag, and/or buying them a year in the hopes that they can use a top pick on a corner in the 2013 draft. It’s a huge decision, and it really could color the outlook of this defense for years to come. If they keep Grimes, they should be fairly confident that it will stabilize the secondary for years to come, an area that has been a major weakness for the Falcons over the years. If not, then they are gambling that current players on their roster will step as well as hoping that they can find that stabilizing piece in future off-seasons.

As far as I see it, why roll the dice?

Categories: Features Tags: , , ,

Moneyball 2011 – Week 18 Review

January 10th, 2012 Comments off

I know I’ve said this a couple of times already this year, but this was really hard game to re-watch. It felt like getting a prostate exam. The Falcons just looked inept on offense in this game, and seemed like some 6-10 team that had won a door prize to get into the playoffs, rather than the 10-6 team we saw most of the year.

Matt Ryan did not play well in this game. He was late on throws and reads, and seemed unwilling to try and challenge downfield. It looked like the Falcons gameplan was to feature a lot of short passing to offset the lack of a running game in the hopes that getting the ball out of his hands quickly would slow down the Giants pass rush. Well it really didn’t work too well. Roddy White did not play very well, with three drops. Julio Jones had a nice day, but the reality is that the Falcons did not really try to feature him. Gonzalez made some nice catches, but he too seemed to be not heavy into their game plan.

Much of their gameplan centered on feeding Michael Turner, which was certainly expected. But the Falcons offensive line struggled to move the pile and Turner was for the most part a non-factor. The Falcons offensive line is probably the real culprit of this loss. THey got their butts kicked by the Giants front, and nothing signifies this more than they two 4th & 1 stuffs on the sneaks where they got no push. But don’t always forget that the Falcons had a 3rd & 2 and 3rd & 1 that the line could not convert either.

Personally, I really don’t have a major issue with Mike Smith’s decision to go for it on either fourth down instead of kicking the field goal. I tend to favor coaches that are a bit more aggressive on fourth down. What I do have issue with is that the Falcons did not convert. They were asked to “man up” and they got punked. And regardless of whether the Falcons net 6 points on those two series, it still doesn’t change the fact that the Giants were punking them throughout the day. So while it would have made the score closer had the Falcons kicked those field goals, I certainly don’t think it would have really had any impact on the outcome of the game.

The bigger coaching decision I have to question is why the Falcons did not call a timeout at the end of the first half in their two-minute drill after Ryan inept-looking scramble. After that play, 18 seconds ticked off the clock. Why did Smith nor Ryan not call a timeout then? That’s two or three plays that the Falcons could have had at the end of the half to try and put some points on the board.

PLAYER
PASS
RUSH
REC
BLOCK
SPEC
PEN
TOTALS
Michael Turner$0$6$0$0$0$0$6.00
Julio Jones$0$2$3$0$0$0$5.00
Matt Ryan$6-$2$0$0$0$0$4.00
Tony Gonzalez$0$0$4-$1$0$0$3.00
Justin Blalock$0$0$0$2$0$0$2.00
Jason Snelling$0$1$0$0$0.5$0$1.50
Todd McClure$0$0$0$1$0$0$1.00
Mike Cox$0$0$0$1$0$0$1.00
Eric Weems$0$0$0$0$0.5$0$0.50
Michael Palmer$0$0$0$0$0.5$0$0.50
Tyson Clabo$0$0$0$1$0-$1$0.00
Jacquizz Rodgers$0$0$0$0$0$0$0.00
Will Svitek$0$0$0$0$0$0$0.00
Joe Hawley$0$0$0-$1$0$0-$1.00
Roddy White$0$0-$1$0$0$0-$1.00
TEAM OFFENSE$0$0$0$0$0-$1-$1.00

Read more…